#Day40: ‘Forces Used Human Shields In Anti-Militancy Ops In Kashmir,’ says Mehbooba

The Hindustan Times

SRINAGAR

J&K Government has imposed strict curfew in Kashmir against the 'UN march' call by pro-freedom leadership. In this picture, forces enforce curfew and disallow people to cross Budshah bridge in Srinagar. (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)
J&K Government has imposed strict curfew in Kashmir against the ‘UN march’ call by pro-freedom leadership. In this picture, forces enforce curfew and disallow people to cross Budshah bridge in Srinagar. (KL Images: Bilal Bahadur)

What media missed during J-K CM Mehbooba Mufti’s 54-minute August 15 speech was a stunning admission that army and police used civilians as human shields in operations against militants.

It was a rare admission by any chief minister of the state since militancy erupted in Kashmir in 1989.

Driving home her claim that people with “vested interests were using children as shields” to target security forces during the current uprising, Mehbooba said she “fought against government forces” for putting villagers in the line of fire during anti-militancy operations in late 1990s.

“When I started politics (in 1996), people would fear to come out of their homes. Youth were not allowed to move out (by their families). They feared that if they went to college they would not return in the evening. People would fear police, Army and CRPF,” Mehbooba said.

All roads to UN office in Srinagar sealed.
All roads to UN office in Srinagar sealed.

“Back then I would fight with army and police, when they would go for crackdown in villages. They would ask villagers to be in front of them to find militants from a house. People would fear that if the militant fired they would die in between. I have fought against this practice,” she said.

A view of UNO Office Srinagar on wednesday 17 August 2016. Separatists have called for a 72 hour march to United Nations Office in srinagar PHOTO BY BILAL BAHADUR
A view of UNMOGIP Office Srinagar on Wednesday – 17 August 2016.

Altaf Hussain, a former correspondent for BBC in Kashmir, said, “People have made such allegations against security forces often, but this is the first time that a CM has admitted. It is a statement with serious implications.”

Security personnel stand guard during curfew in Batmaloo area of srinagar on wednesday 17 August 2016. Separatists have called for a 72 hour march to United Nations Office in srinagar PHOTO BY BILAL BAHADUR
Deserted Srinagar’s Batamaloo area as forces personnel stand guard while debris of stones remain scattered in road.

Blaming people with vested interest, Mehbooba said, “Today unfortunately those who want J-K to burn are using kids as shields for their nefarious designs. They are putting kids forward with the thinking that they (people with vested interest) will throw stones, petrol bombs and grenades towards security forces. The policeman or the CRPF personnel facing these kids is himself a father and they (people with vested interests) think maybe he will stop firing,” she said.

Security personnel stop poeple during curfew in srinagar on wednesday 17 August 2016. Separatists have called for a 72 hour march to United Nations Office in srinagar PHOTO BY BILAL BAHADUR
Not allowed: People carrying essential domestic items were stopped from moving on Srinagar roads in view of UN march called by pro-freedom leadership.

Reacting to the CM’s claim, moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “she has no moral right to be where she is…it proves they had maintained silence over these things.”

(The news item first appeared in The Hindustan Times with minor changes.)

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